There will be no prime ministerial debate before the 2018 national election because Viktor Orbán has no serious challenger, according to a senior Fidesz politician, reports Magyar Nemzet.
A debate would only be justified if there were two parties with about equal electoral support, the high-ranking Fidesz member told the newspaper at a closed event in October.
“Nobody has earned the right through their political achievements to have the Prime Minister in office stand up to debate with them,” the anonymous official said. The official added that only two people could have a debate because if three or more parties were included there would always be occasional coalitions that would always stand against the government. Another argument against the debate, according to the Magyar Nemzet source, is that it is always more beneficial to the challenger: “It helps those more who are smaller and weaker.”
On the other hand, the politician did not rule out holding debates on policy topics throughout the campaign. Although the government’s results “provide enough munition”, obviously it was not in Fidesz’s interest to let policy debates define public life.
The last prime ministerial debate was 11 years ago when then-prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, leading a Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP)-Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) coalition government, was challenged by Orbán on National Television. According to contemporary and current analyses, Gyurcsány was the victor in the debate. Though MSZP and Fidesz were head-to-head before the debate according to polls, the former went on to win the 2006 election.